Show Business

Kirsten Luce's Image

One hand raised, signalling to the polar bear to stand, and the other holding a rod, the trainer directed the bear through the ice-rink show. A wire muzzle was used to prevent the bear from biting and blue safety netting surrounded the circus ring to protect the audience. This bear is one of four animal performers in the world’s only polar bear circus.

Sensitive to their environment, polar bears do not fare well in captivity, with many dying young. Yet they are popular exhibits in zoos across the globe, even in hotter climates. Back in their Arctic home, these bears are threatened by climate change, as well as habitat destruction from oil exploration work.

Behind the lens

Kirsten Luce

Kirsten Luce


Kirsten is a photojournalist based in Brooklyn, USA, who started out at daily newspapers in the USA and Mexico. She received an award from Pictures of the Year International and a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography. Her work has been exhibited at Visa pour l'Image, The United States Senate, the National Gallery of Canada, Harvard University and other galleries and museums.

Image details

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
  • 70–200mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/500 sec at f4  •   ISO 2000
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

More images from Kirsten Luce

View all
Making Belugas Play Ball
Look Happy or Else

Wonder wall

Many of these stunning images are available as personalised prints for your home

Shop now

Discover more

A photo of two orphaned chimpanzes clutching the rescue owner

Wildlife Photographer of the Year: The Healing Touch

Community Care won the Photojournalist Story Award in the fifty-seventh Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. The images document the efforts of the Lwiro Chimpanzee rescue centre and sanctuary, which rehabilitates orphaned chimpanzees.  

Read article

Sign up to our newsletter

Get email updates about Wildlife Photographer of the Year news, events, science, products and fundraising activities. You must be over the age of 13. Privacy notice.